Showing posts from April, 2011

A Tribute to Saw Palmettos

Serenoa repens, the hardy Saw palmetto, found throughout our fair state and in the logo for the Florida Native Plant Society, is a tough and versatile plant. It is in rampant bloom right now, reminding the Jolly Bloggers that they have been meaning to do an "appreciation" post on it for some time now. So let's do it!

Wikipedia is almost never a resource for us here, but I must admit I was interested in the name of this plant, and found no information from our usually mentioned resources. I discovered over there that 'Serenoa' was used as a way of honoring the American botanist, Sereno Watson, who otherwise had nothing whatsoever to do with the plant as far as I could discover. 'Repens' is latin for "unexpected, or surprised." And so I was. Surprised. I had expected the name to tell something about the plant!

The name 'Saw palmetto,' on the other hand, does tell something about the plant. The petiole, which is the leaf stem, is sharp with t…

Florida Hawthorns Are Hidden Treasures

I have never hidden my great love of hawthorns (Crataegus spp.).  I am unabashedly fond of them for a great many reasons and I have promoted their use in Florida landscapes for more than 20 years.  My love of haws comes from both their beauty and utility; traits that make them especially useful in landscapes designed for wildlife and for aesthetics.  And, given the large number of native species possible, there are excellent choices for nearly every setting likely to be encountered.

Hawthorns belong to the Rose Family, along with the plums, cherries, serviceberries, and crabapples.  Roses are revered for their beautiful 5-petal flowers, which are often present in the spring, and the production of nutritious fruit, generally high in vitamin C.  Florida’s hawthorns all produce white blooms; either solitary, in small clusters, or in large masses across the canopy.  The fruit are
variable in color, size, and time of year that they ripen. Like true roses (Rosa spp.), hawthorn fruit are o…

Eco Explorers - Kids Welcome!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to let you know what great programs your kids can enjoy when you attend the FNPS Conference in May. Children 5-14 will be eligible for a wide variety of experiential and entertaining learning opportunities, conducted by educators who will share their own passion for the natural world.
Join the fun for one or two days of eco-fun as we learn about plants, animals, nature, Florida ecology and MORE!
MeetSwamp Girl and a few of her reptilian friends as she shares her adventures rescuing and releasing Florida’s animals.
Take a field trip to the nearby Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. Meet Toni the Eastern Screech Owl, Trouble the Bald Eagle and and other rescued and rehabilitated raptors and learn about their journey to and at the Center from the experts
Learn about waste — how we produce it and how you can reduce it — with Keep Orlando Beautiful.
Ever wonder what cattail tastes like? Or if beautyberries are as sweet as they look? See, touch and ta…

Systems, Lifestyle, Imagination: Designing Gardens With Rick Darke

When Rick Darke approaches a landscaping project, he doesn’t begin by telling anyone to start planting natives. Instead, he approaches his projects – ranging in size from miles of area along Delaware’s highways to a quarter acre home in Florida – by focusing on lifestyle, ethics, and systems.

I caught up with Rick while he was aboard a train headed for one of his many presentations, this one at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn entitled: The Art of Observation:  Finding The Extraordinary In The Ordinary Landscape. Our call dropped five times, but Rick’s passion for creative, ecologically sound gardening could not be intercepted by a wireless signal!

Rick’s frustration with pushing native plants from a purely moral perspective came through loud and clear:

I am loathe to constantly talk about native plants out of context. I talk about a system.
We really have to understand systems, dynamics, intervening vegetative dynamics... We have to teach people to see the wonder of useful function a…

Win This Native Plant Yard Tour!

A big THANK YOU to our followers here and to our Facebook fans, where we just got the 1000 fans mark! To celebrate this event, the Jolly Bloggers are giving away a field trip of YOUR CHOICE at the upcomingFlorida Native Plant Society's 31st Annual Conference.To enter your name in the RANDOM DRAWING, leave a comment telling briefly why you would choose whichever field trip you would like.
Field trips are available in many categories: beautiful natural areas, water conservation sites, rivers, wildlife management areas, and many more. Click the link below to go to the field trip page and read in detail what each trip offers. Trips are led by experts who know the sites well.
One of the trips will be a tour of nine native yards. This trip  will be in an air conditioned vehicle, lead by Phyllis Gray, who is acquainted with all the gardens. Owners will be present to answer questions, and there will be a  handout provided to help…

A Community Project Goes Native

According to a recent survey, public outreach and education are the top priorities for Florida Native Plant Society chapters, and here is a success story that showcases what can happen when chapter involvement meets up with inspiration from local garden club members. In January, The Ocean Ridge Garden Club hosted a program on natives from the FNPS Palm Beach County Chapter, and here's what happened in April~

The Ocean Ridge Garden Club has just installed a native garden at the entrance to the town hall.  Why native? Native plant landscaping contributes to the preservation and restoration of our natural heritage.  It creates an awareness of the beauty of the plants native to south Florida and it is especially fitting for a public building to be adorned with plants native to the area

A native garden has benefits beyond the beauty of the plantings.  At a time when we are drought conscious,  a native garden will help conserve  water, minimize or eliminate the need for fertilizers and …

Native Plants Push Back!

Well shiver me timbers, mates, our boat has been rocked! Doubters and naysayers have been out there in media land with some ideas that we just might have something to say about. Or about which we might have something to say. You can choose.
A book entitled Plant Driven Design, by Scott and Lauren Springer Ogden has recently been reviewed by one of our friends at the Garden Rant. A lovely book, with some lovely ideas in it.  I read the book when it first came out, and the review had me breaking out in sweat for a second time.
I quote: Coming in for even more bashing are native plant purists, and their claims that native plants grow better than nonnatives, to which the Ogdens reply simply (and accurately) that "Native plants cannot be declared inherently better, either practically or aesthetically."
OK. First of all, how many times have you read right here that the plant must be fitted correctly to the place.  You can't grow sea oats in a swamp. We admit it. Practicality is …

State Parks: Money Talks!

Here in Florida, we have 160 state parks consisting of more than 700,000 acres. In contrast, Texas boasts "more than 90 state parks." There are various types of parks in Florida such as the underwater parks John Pennekamp Coral Reef State and San Pedro Park; the historical sites such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historical Park and the Fort Zachary Taylor Historical Park; but most of the parks highlight wonderful natural areas of the "Real Florida" where you can enjoy native plants and animals in their native ecosystems. Our state parks host more than 21 million visitors a year and provide many of the destination sites that bring out-of-state visitors to our state.

Even though Florida's parks provide beautiful and educational experiences and bring in many tourists, Governor Scott threatened to close many of them to "save money" and then some of our politicians were ready to make a deal with Jack Nicklaus to build golf courses i…